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What is Your Plan?

Planning ahead isn’t always easy. It’s hard enough to get all of your tasks at hand complete, and sometimes finding the time to map out a larger plan can seem intimidating. Although we may look at this task as something that can just keep getting pushed aside for later, planning ahead is necessary when it comes to maximizing all of your opportunities and getting a clearer picture for the future. Finding a planning strategy that works for you will not only help your business, but will help you grow as an entrepreneur.

Each year, I take July and August to set forth my plans for the upcoming business year. Naturally, this is the time when I feel most stretched — I’m simultaneously executing deliverables while developing creative plans for projects that are months, even a year, away. The planning is fun, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and to feel that my creativity is sometimes dampened from the large amounts of work that I am producing. Over time, I’ve found two methods that help me move forward whenever I’m feeling stuck in this place.

First, I have to be forgiving with myself when it comes to meeting deadlines. That doesn’t mean that I’ll let important projects slip by, but during this time period, I have to be more lenient with what my schedule allows. As a leader and an entrepreneur, I tend to be extremely hard on myself and my team when it comes to expectations with deadlines. However, during this planning timeframe, I have learned to release some of that self-imposed pressure and trust in the fact that everything will get done. Being a member of a small team, I’m aware of the fact that there’s only so much that can get done each day, so being mindful of our extra workload and being more flexible with timing helps me to stay relaxed and allows the work to flow smoothly. I now mentally prepare in advance knowing that I need to give myself some extra wiggle room during the months of July and August.

The second method I use during this planning season is what I call “capturing high-level ideas.” During my typical creative process, I’ll develop a plan by mapping out the strategy and tracking every detail from the beginning of the plan to the end goal. However, during this time period, I often find my creativity gets interrupted with various deadlines. Instead of forcing down a strategy, I give myself a break and focus my attention on capturing the high-level ideas for my annual business plan. Capturing the main points allows me to stay focused on the big picture, and when my schedule allows, I go back in and fill in the rest of the details.

By implementing both of these methods, I find it gives me a sense of freedom and flexibility when it comes to how I approach getting my work done. I’m able to successfully develop an executable plan for my upcoming business year and still meet all of my current deadlines.

What works best for me may not necessarily be what’s best for you. The key is recognizing that you, as an entrepreneur, have the liberty of designing a work flow that suits your needs.It may take a few tries to find what works best for you when it comes to juggling your current workload with planning your yearly business strategy, but when you do find this balance, you’ll find you’re more successful and at peace than ever before. Just remember to be patient with yourself and learn as you go.

Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place. Proverbs 16.3 MSG

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